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Homemade deodorant

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My skin is delicate.

I’ve inherited a cornucopia of skin issues from my parents. (Thanks!) My skin is, at once, too dry, too oily, prone to breaking out if I eat too much of x or y, very fair and highly likely to be burnt, etc. It also does not react well to many substances, both chemical and natural. Finding a deodorant that does not make me break out in a rash has been challenging.

I gave up antiperspirant about ten years ago. Even then, the idea gave me the heebie-jeebies (my Mom is a breast cancer survivor, and I’m a little paranoid), and honestly, the adjustment to living with sweat took me about a week. I don’t understand why this is still marketed as a good idea – it’s as if you had an expensive, multi-layered waste filtration system set up in your house, and you put a cap on the final layer so none of it worked. If you don’t want unsightly sweat stains on your pits, wear breathable fabrics!  

The problem I had was moving beyond mainstream deodorant. Tom’s of Maine made me break out in a painful rash, particularly the non-scented stuff. The crystal stuff was completely ineffective. Other “natural” brands I tried also made me get a rash. For years, the only thing I could reliably use was the basic Speed Stick by Mennen, but I’m not a fan of having deodorant that turns into cologne when you start sweating, AND I was worried about the chemicals I was putting under my arms.

I’ve finally found the solution, thanks to an adaptation of a recipe by Crunchy Betty. Here’s the link: http://www.crunchybetty.com/not-a-secret-homemade-deodorant

For those who don’t want to click through, here’s the basics: you need beeswax, coconut oil, shea butter, essential oils, and some kind of powder. She used bentonite clay. I wasn’t that fancy, so I used arrowroot powder. Basic internet research said that arrowroot was less problematic for people’s skin than cornstarch, so I chose that. 

I heated up the grated beeswax and coconut oil in an improvised double boiler set-up. Then I stirred in the shea butter and arrowroot powder until blended smooth. Finally, I added my oils. Now, I thought that my partner had tea tree oil, but it was in fact eucalyptus oil, which doesn’t have the same antimicrobial properties. Oops! I also used my homemade sage oil, because I was desperately wanting to use it for something! The result is a deodorant that smells good and kinda works.

I had heard that baking soda was caustic for lots of people, so I was originally hesitant to use it on my picky skin, but I’m finding that if I powder some on over my deodorant while it’s still wet, it doesn’t bother me at all, and my deodorant goes from “kind of” working to completely working. I’m also using organic baking soda from a  bulk bin, so that could be making the difference in terms of not giving me a chemical burn. I have a very physical job and unload trucks full of furniture twice a week, and this stuff has passed the test. I compensate by skipping the baking soda on my days off.

I am curious to see what happens if I use the right essential oils for the next batch, but for now, I’ve found something that works! 

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